By Dennis C. Callin

And by Anna-Karin Uhlén

Fanfiction: Beauty and the Beast (Paramount 1987)

Disclaimer: The following story is for entertainment purposes only, and not intended to infringe on the copyrights connected with the television program series Beauty and the Beast. The story is fictional, and not intended to portray any person, living or dead, any place, or technically, any event as true. My thanks go to Paramount Studios and CBS for airing B&B for three seasons, and providing a beautiful story based on the fairy tale brought into modern times.

Chapter Two

The Pursuit…


Of the various morning rituals enjoyed by literally millions of people all over the world, one of the most favored is a hot cup of coffee. Whether one adds milk, cream, sugar, or combinations of the three, the taste of the roasted and ground beans helps start the drinker’s day. Was it the taste or the caffeine? Janosch really did not care about the “buzz.” Having been cold much of the time growing up, he lived for the warmth.

Knowing that he would soon have company, he had brought a briefcase with him this time. Whenever things went out on the curb, or whenever estates and thrift stores had things left over, those items often disappeared and ended up in the possession of those below the streets, sidewalks and buildings of the metropolis above. One of those items was a briefcase, and that had gone to Janosch.

The people Below, as the denizens called the tunnels, chambers, and hidden caverns beneath New York City, had many choices of how they lived. Some of the people coming Below were essentially refugees. The homeless, destitute, and unwanted often found places where the scouts would find them. If a person wanted to disappear, some of the scouts would steer those that met certain criteria to the holding rooms. Once accepted Below, a person could also choose to go back Above. Many of these people became Helpers – the name given to the people who fed supplies and news to those living Below.

Janosch was one of the many people who were found by Vincent and brought Below. Seeing potential in what appeared to be a runaway boy, the huge leonid protector directed him to Father’s classes. Finding that the boy soaked up knowledge like a sponge, the teachers soon ran out of things for Janosch to learn. Aided by Helpers, Father and Vincent were able to take the then-teenager to a proper school, funded by philanthropist Helpers. As the boy excelled in classes Above, he continued to send messages Below to allow friends and teachers to follow his progress. Having just received acceptance at Columbia University, he was about to embark on a dream – to become a proper historian. However, he now spent a great deal of time Above to attend classes and to haunt the manuscripts, papers, books, microfilm and journals in the libraries around Manhattan.

As a college graduate student, Janosch had ample opportunity to access various sections of the library, as well as being able to access museums and the large public library. Part of that research went into the current project that occupied much of the contents of the briefcase resting next to his chair.

“Can I get you some more eggs, Jan?” Mary asked.

“A second helping is always appreciated,” he said gratefully. “Thanks.”

His plate was soon filled with a pile of scrambled eggs, a pair of warm biscuits, a dollop of his favorite orange marmalade, a pat of butter, and three strips of crisp bacon. A mismatched ceramic tureen of gravy came shortly afterward. When Mary put a clean glass of orange juice in front of him, his eyes lit up.

“You definitely know the route to my heart. The first time I tasted this stuff, I couldn’t believe it! Until I came Below, I didn’t have many chances to have O.J., much less enjoy it.”

“Well, we do have a fairly decent supply. Our Helpers thought having various fruit juices might help beat some of the doldrums here.”

“In that case,” a pleasant woman’s voice said, “try cranberry juice.”

Janosch stood as Catherine and Vincent entered the dining room and made their way to his table. He shook Vincent’s hand and gave Catherine a friendly hug. “Somehow, I knew you would be looking for me early on.”

“How did you know?” Vincent said in a sandy whisper.

“The story of Prince Mstislav,” Janosch said as he retook his seat. “The first time I read my transcripts, I had nightmares. But then, maybe, nightmare isn’t the word for it. The dreams were definitely troubling, were they not?”

Mary brought in another pair of plates of steaming food that she set in front of the couple, and then went and brought one back for her own breakfast. Janosch dug right into his as soon as the others started. One of the biscuits received a ladle of gravy while the other was buttered and liberally coated with marmalade.

“How did you know we would have nightmares concerning the Prince?” Vincent asked between two forkfuls of wonderfully seasoned eggs.

Janosch had to finish swallowing a mouthful of biscuit and gravy. “Because the Prince was like you in my mind, and you know it’s not just because he looks like you would have been described. He didn’t waste any time, but went to the rescue of the girl in that story without any thought of his own safety. From my research interviewing elders in several of the border towns and villages in eastern Austria, when he became king, the people were very happy to be under his rule. He was strict, yes, but he was uncharacteristically fair in his justice. Criminals were not welcome within his borders, and he often dealt with highwaymen personally.”

Everyone ate slowly, and added some of the hot gravy to the eggs when they threatened to turn cold. Janosch maintained his recitation while taking a bite, chewing it thoughtfully, and then continuing on. “People knew they needed to obey the laws of the land, and the soldiers who enforced the laws knew better than to take advantage of their positions. Any citizen who broke the laws either paid a hefty fine or performed what we would call community service. I’ll tell you this, I would rather do graffiti work and picking up trash than what they did in his kingdom. Road repair, bridge-building, whitewashing … even gardening – all hard work. The service mirrored the crime, so the harsher the deed – the longer the length of service. When they weren’t working, the criminal was confined to the castle dungeon. Executions were only for the most hideous crimes. The only way the Prince was not like you, Vincent, was the sentence of an execution. Again, the crime justified the sentence – when possible. For example, and I will keep this simple so as not to spoil our appetite, a person who committed arson that killed someone? If the crime was cited as being intentional, the execution was by fire.”

Pouring himself another cup of coffee from the thermos, Janosch liberally added sugar and cream. Although he had first enjoyed the coffee black, the smooth taste of cream and the sweet addition of sugar made coffee even more enjoyable. “So … because the Prince and the King ran such a region, law-abiding citizens enjoyed his rule while everyone who didn’t steered clear of it.”

“Since he apparently was not widely known,” Catherine said, “what happened to him?”

Here Janosch pursed his lips in annoyance. “Are you Catholic?”

“No. Why?”

“Although the Catholic Church is one of the oldest Christian theologies, they sometimes used their knowledge and position as such to wield power. The Spanish Inquisition was a good example of the misuse of such. The Crusades and times afterward were often fraught with certain little demi-gods who claimed to work for the preservation of the Mother Church. Cardinal Richelieu of France during the reign of Louis XIII was often portrayed as one such example of this. During this time, people were often imprisoned and executed for offenses to the Church as well as for treason to the State. The Prince was one possible target of this type of persecution. Although the Princedom survived some of the petty squabbles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the battle between the Europeans and the Ottoman Turks took its toll on the ‘Lion of the Balkans.’ For the most part, the name was merely a legend to most, but there were tales of fearsome encounters at night.”

When not eating, Janosch often used his fork as a pointer. Dishes, condiments and glasses became whatever he needed to use for examples. “Somewhere during this time, my research seems to indicate that someone within the Catholic Church took an interest in an obscure legend of the Transylvanian monarch. They sent a cardinal to see if the legend was merely folklore or real. The name that was given was very disturbing.”

Janosch looked up to make sure he had their attention. Expectant faces showed he did.

“The cardinal’s name was Antipater.”

“Antipater …?” Catherine nearly choked.

“The name almost screams for further research, I’ll admit,” Janosch nodded. “Soon after the Papal Inquisitor was sent, the kingdom in the Balkans, like so many others, ceased to exist. Battles around Vienna muddied up the waters a tad, and both the Prince’s family and the Cardinal faded into the mists of time, as it were.”

This time, Janosch pushed back his plate and refilled his coffee cup. “The seventeenth century was very quiet, and it was not until 1740 arrived that a story was published. A French writer, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, wrote La Belle et la Bête. Although considered a fairy tale for children, you must admit that folklore often has some basis of truth. The basic plot is this. Our beauty is a young woman named Belle who is the daughter of a merchant. Her father receives word of a fortune, but he must travel from the village to fight legal battles. In the process, he loses his way in the forest and stumbles upon a castle. Taking refuge, he feels welcome until he does something to anger the resident – the Beast. The Beast thinks first to imprison him, but instead offers to trade him for his daughter. Belle agrees and takes his place in the Beast’s castle. Each day, the Beast treats her well, but continually asks her to marry him. She eventually becomes fond of him, but each time declines marriage. When her father becomes ill, she asks to go to him. The Beast reluctantly agrees, but does require that she return. Belle’s two sisters, her brother and a local suitor conspire to take the Beast’s riches and kill him. Belle does not realize the plot against the Beast, and stays to help her father return to health. The Beast pines for Belle, and falls ill himself. Belle discovers, almost too late, that the Beast is dying. As he dies in her arms, a castle guardian, a statue of Diana, kills the suitor who is trying to rob the castle’s riches. The Beast becomes the Prince, and he and Belle live happily ever after.”

“Would I be so cursed,” Vincent said with a trace of whimsy. “Then Catherine could give me a kiss and magically transform me.”

“But she has, Vincent,” Mary said with a sad smile. “Her love gave you more than a reason to live. It also saved your soul from dying from misery and grief. Father’s death did not affect you as much as it could have, were it not for her love.”

“Mary, please…” Catherine started to object, but Vincent placed a hand on hers.

“She’s right. So … where did this fairy tale come from, Jan?”

“Take a dart, and a map of France, throw the dart, and this is where the fairy tale came from. Even in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the frontier around the Alps and the mountains and hills of southeastern France was wild territory. A castle, or a majestic chateau, could have been the new kingdom.”

“So you are saying that the fairy tale was real?” Catherine asked.

Janosch nodded as he brought his cup up for another sip. “Or at least extremely plausible. To begin with, the fairy tale comes to light through the writing of more than one author, and it occurs before the French Revolution. Prince Mstislav is never mentioned, but the description of the ‘Beast’ seems to have surfaced in France for some reason. Your visage, Vincent, is what we call leonid, or like a lion. At peace, and I am sure Catherine will agree with this, you present a very noble image.”

Vincent smiled slightly and nodded his head. Catherine also smiled. “I do agree … but I sense that isn’t where this is going.”

“Unfortunately, you are right,” Janosch said, leafing through the pages on the tabletop. He found what he was looking for, and produced a couple of old newspaper clippings. “I am sorry, but I will have to say this in order to continue what happened. When you are angry, Vincent, even you must say your entire appearance changes. There have been times when you frightened people away without harming them, just because of the concept of them encountering a ‘Beast.’ Can you imagine them trying to describe you in the late 1700s? I am sure your lion-like qualities would be amplified horrifically.”

“I… understand…” Vincent said heavily.

Janosch nodded again. “Let me ask you something that may sound insensitive, but something like that may have happened. Have you ever thought of shaving your facial fur?”

At first, he thought Vincent might scoff at the idea, but he and Catherine shared what appeared to be a thoughtful glance. “I have… wondered… about such an action…”

Mary, Catherine and even Janosch chuckled and then had a shared laugh. Catherine reached up and stroked Vincent’s cheek.

“I wonder what you would feel like if you did, Vincent?”

“Why do you ask this, Jan?” Vincent asked softly.

“These newspaper clippings are dated 1713, during the last two years of the reign of King Louis XIV.  The paper was from the city of Lyons and described a frightened populace of a small village with a chateau. They described the sighting of a beast on the ground of the chateau with one of the village’s maidens. Her name was Isabelle Camilla Dubios.”

 “Isabelle …” Catherine mused. “That definitely would account for the young woman in the folk tale.”

“Right. The chateau is what caught my attention, though. The name given by the article was Château de la Fontaine. That means Castle of the Fountain.”

“Why is that?”

“That involves other portions of the story, and that is further on in time. However, once I got past the irony of the castle’s name, I researched the article. Unfortunately, all I could get was some rambling accounts about how the castle was said to be haunted, and that the only thing that can be found today was its ruins. But the article’s description mirrors the uprising almost directly. Apparently, the people around the castle believed the monster to have kidnapped the young woman, and they besieged the castle. The soldiers of the castle tried to fend off the attack, but they were outnumbered and soon subdued. There was a report of a citizen who said they shot the beast, but no body was ever found. The young woman was also never found.”

“In this story, the two lovers had to flee instead of living ‘happily ever after,’” Vincent said sadly. Then, he looked sharply at the young man. “You paused after talking about a citizen. Why?”

“The irony of his name is confirmed, and well-documented, and this gave me a pattern to watch for. The man said to have shot the beast of the Castle of the Fountain was named Armel Gaston Patenaude.”

“Irony is not the word for it!” Mary exclaimed. “That is downright uncanny.”

“Yes,” Janosch said solemnly. “We get Gaston as the more modern villain and the French surname for ‘Father.’ ”

“Which is the same as Paracelsus’ real name,” Vincent finished.

“And so the cardinal of Mstislav’s time reappears,” Janosch said as he leaned back in his chair. “Somehow, he maintained some manner of contacts and just waited for anything out of the ordinary … especially where a report of a ‘beast’ was concerned.”

“Was the Church still after the family?” Catherine asked, picking up the drawing of the Beast attacking the highwayman from earlier on.

“No one is quite sure of Patenaude’s part in this event,” Janosch replied. “Whether he was a Church man or not is really debatable. He was a womanizer, or so the elders in the village said. It was also said that he was after Isabelle, and that is how the uprising was instigated. He was jealous … and then discovered that .…”

“His rival was also his nemesis,” Vincent nodded. “I have noticed that this confrontation is not a regular event in your history. Are there holes in the timeline that we do not know about?”

“It does seem that something is missing,” Janosch replied, and then leaned forward to show interest to his audience. “Any sighting of the beast has always been male. Therefore, I tend to agree that the argument that John Pater and Father had about the subject now has some merit. That factor means that either the birth of a male in the family line is rare, or the gene that produces the characteristics goes dormant. Because of Jacob, I tend to believe the latter hypothesis.”

Janosch reached for the coffee thermos and found it empty. Mary quickly took the thermos and disappeared briefly before returning with a full pot. Smiling gratefully, Janosch accepted another cup of the fresh brew. He took an appreciative sip before raising an eyebrow.

“An interesting blend…”

“Our Helper sometimes gets some flavored beans,” Mary replied impishly. “He knows I like the Irish Crème blend with its slight taste of mint.”

Vincent patiently waited until Janosch took another sip and savored it. “You were saying that the beast characteristics seem to take on a genetic factor.”

Janosch nodded and put his coffee cup down. Vincent noted absently that the young man kept his hands around the cup, but that was characteristic of him.

“Apparently the trait was primarily dormant if the child was female. I have a feeling that both Father and John Pater believed that the female children had a repressive gene in the ‘X’ chromosome. With the ‘Y’ chromosome, the repression trait is non-existent ….”

“Because the repressive gene is in the leg of the ‘X’ chromosome,” Catherine completed the chain of logic. “One problem though. Even a male child has an ‘X’ chromosome.”

“Then it is possible that some male children have the gene but it is repressed in that one,” Vincent said calmly. “That is the reason our son does not look like me.”

Janosch nodded. “Excellent. I knew you would help me understand the holes in the family line.”

“So …” Catherine said carefully. “We are in the mid-seventeen hundreds. When does the report of the beast surface again?”

This time, Janosch’s eyes went down to his coffee cup. He drank nervously from it and appeared to savor the taste before setting the cup back down again.


Janosch noted with grim satisfaction that the look on the three faces were the same – revulsion and shock. When he made the disclosure, he somehow knew this would be true.

“My God …” Mary said first, and then went uncharacteristically silent.

“I have a sick feeling of where this is going,” Catherine murmured.

“And you would be right if you wondered about what was taking place at this time,” Janosch nodded. “Many allegations have been made about the Nazis seeking out items of the occult such as the items seen in the Indiana Jones movies. With such icons in their possession, many high-ranking officers, and probably Hitler himself, believed that they would be invincible. All the early accounts of the vast German victories almost seemed to collaborate this idea: the Anschluss, the destruction of Poland, the blitzkrieg of France, and the near destruction of Great Britain during the Blitz. The failure of the Blitz to take out England and pave the way to invade the main island was seemingly a pivot point. We are not really sure that Nazi Germany actually had such items and that they lost their power by the end of 1941. By this time, things began to shift, and the World War began to disfavor the Axis powers. The thoughts concerning the occult powering the Reich faded later when the Russian campaign came to a disastrous end at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad … and then everything started going the other way …”

Again Janosch began organizing documents and photos in front of him. “In 1939, there was an obscure letter sent from southern France by a German agent. This document here shows the word ‘Löwetruppen’ in the text. I highlighted it.”

“ ‘Löwetruppen’?” Catherine asked.

“Literally translated, it means ‘Lion Troops,’” Janosch said quietly. “At first, I only had the body of the transmission. I researched a number of the Third Reich’s military organizations, thinking that this was an obscure Special Forces unit, or maybe some detachment of the SS. No mention was found in any of the documents or orders of the German forces prior to the opening phases of World War II. No matter where I looked, I could not find any mention of such a unit. Then I found another transmission document that had the word ‘Tiertruppen.’ Again, this word was just as obscure without any such named unit in the German army of World War II.”

“What does that one mean?” Catherine asked hesitantly. “I think ‘truppen’ means troops, so what does ‘Tier’ mean?”

Surprisingly, the answer came from Vincent. “Beast.”

Janosch nodded, and then held up a photocopy. “In this document, I managed to get the name of the agent, or his alias. If you think the hints of the troop designations were bad enough, this one gave me the trail I needed. The agent’s name was Johann Vatermann.”

“My God …” Mary exclaimed breathlessly. “John Father-man.”

Nodding again, Janosch placed the two documents down on the table and then placed a small notebook down next to them. “The use of the term ‘Father’ is too coincidental to be anything but an obvious link to anyone who is like me. This agent, seemingly related to the Catholic Inquisitor of the seventeenth century, was inquiring if the Nazi regime during the opening phases of the war wanted a secret weapon to use against their enemies. That is the reason behind the Löwetruppen and the Tiertruppen references. Think of this. Nazi soldiers who were genetically enhanced to be like Vincent .…”

“That’s horrid!” Catherine said angrily.

Janosch’s calm face, however, was even more frightening than the image. “Yes. And be glad it never happened. The Löwetruppen idea was rejected because of the sheer logistics of its conception. The formation of such an army of Lion Warriors would take at least fourteen or fifteen years to create, and Hitler wanted this war to be over long before then. But if they had been able to form such troops, Nazi trainers would indoctrinate them. You would not have the Vincent we know and … love. They would be fierce and loyal to the Reich, and very likely be nothing more than sadistic, cold-blooded killers.”

Finally, Vincent spoke. “Where did this agent find my ancestor?”

Janosch opened the notebook. “In southern France … in the same area from which the folktale emanated. Not surprisingly, Vincent and the sighted beast of France have a common and very distinguished feature.”

“My red hair and fur,” he replied simply.

“Correct. Although southeastern France was technically in Italian hands during the first part of the war, the Germans were permitted anywhere in the Axis-controlled areas. To have a Nazi sympathizer or agent in non-German-held territory would be normal rather than an exception. This journal,” Janosch said, holding up the notebook and then setting it back down, “was the one the agent used to collect his notes. The initial few pages were mundane things concerning the incapability of France being able to counter German and Italian forces during an invasion. The change developed later on when he noticed a family with unusually bright red hair: the mother, her young son, and her older married daughter with her daughter’s young child: all had the same trait. At first, the color was just unusual because no one else in the village had red hair. As he began to observe this family, he noted that the boy was a troublemaker. In school, the neighborhood and even at home, the boy showed a tendency for anger and violence, a trait not shown by the older daughter. Couple this boy with the folktale, and there becomes a possibility that seems too convenient to be dismissed.”

Flipping a few pages, Janosch pursed his lips for a moment. “Just after the blitzkrieg that took France practically out of the war, Vatermann finally received permission to bring in the family for questioning. Fortunately, relatives and friends found out about the agent. With the past that this family had to endure, they became very astute at discovering secret police tactics and observation. Thus, Agent Vatermann could only get the brother. I have here a transcription of what took place during his interrogation. The brother’s name was Léonard. The agent captured him, and tried to get him to talk. This is an account of the interrogation that was important:

"I said, WHERE IS SHE?!"

The roar was so loud it hurt his ears – the ears that were mashed like little pieces of red broccoli. His nose was broken and eyes swollen almost shut; he had already lost several teeth.

The tall pale man, barely younger than himself, grabbed his jacket again. "We need you and we need her and we need that baby!"

"You ... cannot have ... her," gurgled the red-haired young man, and then spat a hefty lump of blood at the man. His comrades, a duo of one blond-haired freckled man and a skinny pale half albino woman, were keeping a lookout through the old shop window, making sure no gendarmes showed up. The interrogator absently removed a handkerchief and wiped the sputum from his face, and then backhanded the young man tied to the chair.

"I have invested too much in this. In too much work! If you only KNEW the sacrifices I have made for this!"90

The pale sky-blue eyes of the young man in his hands glowed defiantly at him. "I saw what the Germans did. I saw what they were capable of. "

"Funny thing, boy, I am not with them. I have other agendas."

Janosch closed the journal, and stared at it before he nodded. “The young brother had been brought in as a suspect in guerilla activities against the Germans. Convincing the local officers of the Occupation that he had German authority, Vatermann managed to take charge of the brother, and got that much. Then Léonard did something that Vatermann should have taken into consideration. After that nasty bit of interrogation, Léonard was being taken back to his room when he turned on his jailer. Although he was handcuffed and shackled, they forgot one important part of him …”

Catherine’s eyes closed while Vincent nodded. “His teeth.”

“Even though he lost several teeth, his canines were still well intact. He managed to lock those in the throat of the jailor. The woman shot him before Vatermann could stop her, and so the family seemingly escaped. It is believed that his mother and his sister and her daughter were whisked away by either the father, or by relatives in the village and from neighboring villages. Those who were left behind claimed the family had been killed in a bombing raid. To make the story seem true, the resistance managed to blow up their house and made it look like a bomb had hit it.”

“They came here, didn’t they?” Catherine said.

Janosch nodded, sipping his coffee, and deciding that he needed to warm his cup. “Yes, and to New York through Ellis Island. The records never show their actual names. However, there was one name in the immigration entries that stood out. The name ‘Ivona’ was the baby’s name, and her name was odd because the report indicates the country of origin was France.”

“The name sounds odd, I’ll admit,” Mary said.

Janosch grinned slightly. “Slovakian, actually. I used a computer search criteria of any family unit that came in with a mother, a daughter and a baby that was birthed by the daughter coming from Europe during 1940 and 1941. I knew the mother and daughter would probably change their names, but not the grandchild. While the adults’ were French names, the small girl’s name wasn’t. I feel sure that this was the family that escaped Vatermann’s hands.”

“Slovakian,” Catherine repeated.

“Possibly in Brooklyn,” Janosch chuckled. “The Park Slope area has talk of putting in a restaurant that will specialize in Slovakian foods. I checked the records at Ellis and they gave their last name … believe this or not … as Aslan.”

“C.S. Lewis,” Vincent said quickly. “The Chronicles of Narnia. One of the prominent characters is Aslan, who was depicted as a lion.”

“Correct, and the origin of that name is Turkish.”

“So we are looking for a woman named Ivona Aslan?” Catherine asked. The look she got from Janosch was not promising. “You already checked I take it.”

“I did, but I do have some possibilities you might check out, Catherine,” the young man said, handing her a file folder with two pages worth of names. “I have the other two pages.”

“Looks like I have some traveling to do then. I only have one problem though.”

“What is that?” Janosch asked as he poured himself another cup of coffee.

“If our mother and daughter came here in 1941, then the mother of Vincent was that infant. If they grew up in Brooklyn, then how did Vincent show up at the doorstep near St. Vincent’s Hospital’s old entrance?”

“Maybe our search will tell us that. Vincent? We might actually be able to find your birth mother from this.”

“Father told me that she died,” Vincent replied guardedly.

“She might have died, yes,” Janosch nodded sympathetically. “But we would still know who she was, and what happened to her. Vincent … this is what Father wanted me to do, and I owe that to him … and you.”

“I know,” Vincent said as softly as he could. He stood and gently squeezed the young man’s shoulder in passing.

Mary watched the large lion-man go and then looked at Catherine and Janosch. “I hope you are successful at this. I really think he will want to know.”

“I wonder,” Catherine said as she stood. “We have already seen so much. What if they are still after him … and whatever family he has left?”

“I hate to say this, Catherine, but that ‘family’ now includes you.”

“But the world doesn’t know that.”

Janosch picked up his papers and then the journal. “But they will eventually, Catherine. Look at this track record. For over four hundred years, someone has chased his ancestor from the Balkans to France and then to here in New York City. I don’t think they’ve given up yet.”

“But they never had to deal with me, Jan,” Catherine grinned.

“That’s for sure.”


Catherine checked both the address on her page and then up at the number over the door of the brownstone in Brooklyn. Nodding, she took a deep breath and marched up to the door itself and rang the bell.

“One minute,” came an elderly voice inside the door. The lace curtain covering the front window on the ground level story was brushed aside briefly, exposing a somewhat narrow lined face framed by short curly silver hair. Seeing Catherine, she nodded and let the curtain drop. Moments later, the door opened. Standing at the threshold was a woman who was once tall, but now shortened by age. “I had to be certain it wasn’t some salesman or other solicitor. You aren’t one, are you?”

“Missus Ariel Ashland?”


“I’m Catherine Chandler. May I come in?”

“May I ask why? My daughter tells me I’m not supposed to let strangers in.”

“Well, I’m from the District Attorney’s Office and I am attempting to help a client track down some relatives.”


“Mother!? What’s going on?”

At that moment, a woman in her sixties stepped into view behind the elderly lady. Reddish-blond hair still peeked through the strands of gray that also dotted her temples. Carefully, she maneuvered the elder into the house.

“Mother, please go sit down. May I help you?”

“Yes, I’m Catherine Chandler of the District Attorney’s Office. As I just informed your mother, I am trying to help a client find some relatives.”

The tall woman’s face hardened. “May I see some ID, please?”

“Certainly.” Fishing out the ID and a business card, Catherine had to mentally clamp down on her impatience. Showing the ID, Catherine pushed back a lock of hair. “Now, may I know your name?”

“Come in, please.”

Puzzled, Catherine entered the modest brownstone and noted the two deadbolts that would make coming through the door a severe chore for even the SWAT team of the NYPD. Following her “hostess,” Catherine was shown to a chair while the tall woman seated herself in a rocking chair made of oak wood. Even without a practiced eye, she could tell that the chair was an antique.

“Miss Chandler … I did not wish to be rude on the step, but my family needs to be extra careful. My name is Leona Ashland.”

“Leona … the name is very similar to the one I was given by my client. I was told the woman I am looking for was named Ivona Aslan.”

Catherine watched the woman’s face carefully from behind her hair. One trick she learned from interviewing people was to allow her hair to appear to cover her face by looking downward. When she did, she could peek between the strands before she swept the hair back in place behind her ear. For a brief moment, there was surprise and fear, and then it was gone behind a well-crafted mask.

“I’m afraid I do not know her.”

“You did arrive at Ellis Island in 1941, did you not?”

“I’m proud to say I did, yes.”

“With your daughter, and you were age 22 at the time?”  

The eyes shifted to the elderly lady now half-asleep sitting on the couch. “Yes .…”

“With her young daughter, age four?”

“I must ask you to leave.”

Being an attorney and often facing people in court, Catherine refused to stand. “Mrs. Aslan, I must .…”

“My name is Ashland, and I insist!”

“Land sakes,” the elderly woman said as she jerked awake. “What is going on?”

“Nothing to get upset about, Mother,” Leona Ashland said. “This woman is just leaving. Time to take your medicine and take your nap.”

“I don’t need any medication to take a nap! I was sleeping peacefully until you began getting testy. Now, what’s the fuss all about?”

“I am afraid I upset your daughter,” Catherine began and was cut off.

“She enjoys being upset. What did you say?”

“I said I was looking for a woman named Ivona Aslan.”

Leona Ashland butted in. “That’s enough. Leave or I’ll call the police.”

The elderly woman appeared puzzled for a moment. “What do you want my granddaughter for? I haven’t seen her since .…”

“Mother! Go to your room!” Leona stated flatly, and waited while the elderly woman went to the stairway and slowly climbed the stairs. When the second story door closed above them, Leona turned and faced Catherine.

Slowly, the gruff exterior deflated and the woman sat heavily back into the rocker. For a few seconds, Catherine wondered what was going to happen next when Leona sighed.

“I am going to trust you, Miss Chandler,” she finally said. “Anyone else would have already done something dreadful, so I believe you are legitimate. The woman’s name you mentioned is my daughter’s name, and she has been dead since 1955. I thought you knew that.”

“My client is unaware of that. He … never knew his mother.”

“I see. Where do you want me to start?”

“Let me fill you in on what we know, and you can go from there,” Catherine said quietly. “My client knows you escaped from France with some relatives, your daughter and your mother. You passed through immigration in 1941 and that is when we lost track of you. My client believes you to be one of his relatives … maybe even his grandmother.”


“I am not at liberty to identify my client yet.”

“I see. Very well. You are correct that my mother and my daughter and I came here in 1941. We changed our name to Ashland shortly after we became citizens because it was close to our previous surname, and we would respond easily to it. For the same reason, I had my daughter’s name changed to Evina.

Her glance went to the mantel over the fireplace, and to a series of old photos. In one, Catherine saw the familiar building and water tower now preserved on Ellis Island.

“We settled first in the Bronx, and met a few people who didn’t seem to mind us being refugees from France. Because of the war, my mother and I found jobs and even arranged it so that one of us would always be home to watch over Evina. When the war ended, we felt comfortable for the first time in years. Around 1953, Evina was in high school and met a boy she said she fell in love with. Kids … By 1955, they graduated from school and got married … and before I knew it, she told me I was going to be a grandmother.”

Tears appeared in Leona’s eyes as she continued to gaze at the picture. “That’s when the phone calls began. Someone would call, asking for Ivona. My daughter would come to the phone and ask if this was her husband. The man on the other end of the line hung up. We knew then that the Hunter was here in the city. I told Evina to leave and go to her uncle’s place in Manhattan. Thankfully, he had come to the United States in the Thirties, and he lives in the West Village area near Greenwich Village. She hurried out, eight months pregnant, and managed to get on the R train to Manhattan … and that was the last time I saw her alive.”

“I’m terribly sorry, Missus Ashland.”

“Thank you. From the report the police gave us, Evina managed to get to the Eighth Street station at NYU, where she hailed a cab. The cabbie went up Ninth Street and was going to turn on Greenwich when the cab was hit broadside by a car on Sixth Avenue. Both the driver of the car and the cabbie were killed, and my daughter had her water break. She still managed to walk to St. Vincent’s Hospital four blocks away. Somewhere along that walk, she had the baby. The police said an intern taking a smoke break found her body against a tree across the street from the emergency ward. She was just thirty feet away from help!”

“What about the baby?” Catherine said, a sick feeling churning in the pit of her stomach.

“The police never found it.”

“Tell me, Missus Ashland. Do all the members of your family have red hair?”

“Yes … or strawberry blond like me.”

“The picture of your daughter .…”

“She dyed her hair brown to fool everyone,” Leona said, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief, and then chuckled weakly. “Only her husband knew because … well … you know how they can tell.”

Even in this serious of a discussion, Catherine had to chuckle as well. “I imagine that is easy for a married couple to find out. Missus Ashland .…”

“Please call me Leona, dear.”

“Leona … I am going to show you a picture, and I want to know if you recognize him. My client feels that if you do, I am authorized to take you to meet him, if you wish.”

At this point, Catherine opened her attaché case and withdrew a folder. Inside was a picture drawn very meticulously by an artist. The quality of the artwork, however, made the picture look almost like a photograph in quality. Handing the older woman the folder, Catherine waited for the reaction.

And she was not disappointed.

Leona Ashland grew instantly pale. “W-w-where d-d-did you g-g-get this?”

“I commissioned an artist to render it for me. Do you recognize him?”

“He was a suspected Nazi agent operating around our village in France just before the war. My mother’s husband was French and was a member of the Resistance. He described this man to my mother, and we remembered seeing him once without him knowing we did. At that time, my father managed to get us to England, and then we escaped once more to the United States. My father was killed during 1944 after the Allies landed. As part of the Resistance, he was trying to help them maneuver through the countryside, and he stumbled into an ambush. Do you know this man’s name?”

Catherine looked at the picture of a bald old man with a prominent nose and steely eyes. “His name is John Pater. Do you know him?”

“Not by that name. This man is Johann Vatermann. My father was right to send us here then. He is the Hunter we always needed to know about. We had hoped he had died during the war. My father was able to send us word that the Resistance had killed him in an ambush, but that was proved false soon after the war. A relative visiting our village graveyard where my brother was buried saw this traitor.”

“Your brother was killed?”

“He was murdered, Catherine. He was murdered by this man.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about him any longer,” Catherine said calmly. “Johann Vatermann is dead. Here, he was called John Pater. According to my client’s father, who knew him professionally as a doctor, Vatermann had two plates in his skull and one leg required a plate and two bolts. As a result, he limped and used a cane.”

“This is true?”

“Yes,” Catherine said, and then had to think quickly. What story could she use to describe Pater’s death, and not mention Vincent? Then, she remembered. “He was killed in a fire in his laboratory. Since my client’s father knew him, he was the one who performed the autopsy. Because of the plates and the leg, he was able to make a positive ID.”

“Did he have children?”

“None that we know about.”

“Well …  maybe that is moot anyway.”

Catherine’s brow lined in puzzlement. “What do you mean?”

“The reason they are hunting my family is now no longer necessary. The baby that Evina had on her way to St. Vincent’s Hospital was the last of the line. If he did not survive, then the Hunter would have had nothing to hunt.”

Catherine nodded, and then stood. She took the picture back and replaced it in the attaché case. “May I use your phone? I need to make a call and let my client know that if you want, you are able to see him. And since you trusted me, I am going to trust you. I truly believe that you need to come with me to meet him. For Evina’s sake.”

“For Evina’s …?”

“And your own.” Catherine nodded. “I am not sure your mother can come with us.”

“I can have a neighbor see to her,” Leona said strongly. “Where do we need to go?”

“At first, we will go by subway to Central Park. From there, you will definitely be surprised.” Catherine grinned.


Climbing the stairs from Columbus Circle station, Leona Ashland stared at the lushness of Central Park with disbelief. Catherine had called a Helper and had them ask Janosch to wait for them at the USS Maine monument. Seeing the young professor, Catherine led her charge over to the monument.

“In all my years, I never came over here to see this place,” Leona said with awe in her voice. “Here I am, a somewhat native New Yorker, and I haven’t seen this Park until just now.”

“Leona, I would like for you to meet Professor Janosch Dominik,” Catherine said as the young man extended a hand.


“Yes. Hungarian and third-generation American. Aslan is Turkish in origin, but you are definitely not Turkish, are you?”

“No, my ancestors are from what used to be called Transylvania.”

Janosch nodded. “That fits then. Catherine? If you’re certain about Leona, Vincent told us to bring her Below.”

“I’m certain.”

“Please follow us then. Did Catherine tell you about the Below?” Seeing the tall woman shake her head, Janosch gestured the two women to follow him. “What you are about to witness is an urban legend to most New Yorkers. See this drainage pipe? What if I were to tell you that an entire city could be found just inside it?”

“I would say you are crazy or drunk.”

“Good. A disbeliever. Leona, the people you are going to meet need this place to remain secret, and you will know why in a few seconds. Come with me and I will allow him to explain the reasons for it. But for right now, you must never disclose what I am about to show you. Many people’s lives depend upon it.”

“I have kept deadlier secrets than this, Mister Dominik. Your secret is safe with me. My family’s blood is on that oath.”

Janosch nodded. “I haven’t heard that in a while. Thank you. Oh, you can call me Jan.”

Hesitantly, Leona clutched Catherine’s arm as Janosch led them into a shadowy drainage pipe. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she discovered that the pipe did not go all the way through in a straight line, but bent to allow a second pipe to come to a T intersection with it. This pipe had a rusty grating blocking it as it went back into a gentle curve out of sight. Standing just behind the grating, a large figure of a hooded and cloaked man awaited them. At first, Leona slid behind Catherine until she saw that neither Janosch nor Catherine feared this apparition.

A sand-whispery voice spoke. “Is this her?”

Janosch nodded. “We think so, Vincent.”

Leona’s eyes widened as the giant touched something just behind the grating, and a click told her that the grating was now unlocked. Swinging outward with just a hint of a squeal of metal, the second pipe was now open and the giant stepped out. The shadow of the interior of the pipes, however, only gave her a glimpse of the giant’s face.

“Do not be afraid of me,” the giant rasped. “I mean you no harm.”

Gloved hands raised up to the ornate hood of the cloak and gently pulled it back to lie behind his head. Leona gasped as she noted the copper strands of mane that flowed around his head and framed his leonid face.

“My name is Vincent, so named because I was found on the steps of St. Vincent’s Hospital over thirty years ago. I was found there, and was given to a man named Dr. Jacob Wells – a man whom I called ‘Father’ up until his death not long ago. What you see is not an illusion or a deformity.”

“My God …” Leona said, stumbling slightly as she neared the giant. Her hands reached upward slightly and touched his face, the hair on his cheeks, and the strands that almost always lay across his nose and mouth. Tears welled in her eyes as her face bowed down onto his chest, and sobs began to rack her thin frame. Vincent carefully held her and allowed the woman to cry against him. Sympathetically, Catherine came up and placed her hands on the woman’s shoulders, and looked up into Vincent’s patient stare.

“Vincent? Your mother really is dead, I am afraid,” Catherine said gently. “But this … she is your grandmother, Leona … Leona Ashland. Her real name is Aslan.”

The tearstained face rose and bent back just far enough to look into his eyes. “I prayed that you had been found and taken care of. When my daughter did not reach her uncle’s place safely, we thought you had died with her.”

“How did she die?” Vincent asked.

“She had been in a car accident. She was over eight months pregnant, and the crash broke her water and caused other internal injuries. She managed to bear you before she bled to death. I wonder if she knew that you were safe?”

“I do not know. Father only said that I was found near the hospital, and someone brought me here Below. Being what I am, I was only safe here.”

“I was told he came after you even so. Vincent … I cannot believe I have a grandson .…”

“Then we have a further surprise for you,” Vincent said with a warm smile.


“Catherine and I.  Come, we need to introduce you to Jacob … your great-grandchild.”


~~~~~ End Chapter Two ~~~~~

 Chapter Three